Essential Oils can help to promote wellness.

The sense of smell is such a powerful part of limbic system that often gets forgotten.When planning your work with children, do you ever consider sense of smell? I know I would begin by considering my materials visually and then plan for my auditory instruction. If I was having a really good day, I’d throw in a “hands on” component for the sense of touch. However, I think I was missing the mark by not considering sense of smell.

The olfactory bulb, which operates the sense of smell, transmits information directly to the amygdala. We know that the “downstairs” brain controls the emotions we are working to regulate. Whether you are trying to reduce anxiety or increase focus, essential oils can help!

My journey into essential oils began when I purchased essential oils and made a spray for our be station. The students responded so well to the spray that it made me eager to learn more.


It is important to know that essential oils are 100% pure plant extract. Fragrance oils are usually synthetic products and therefore do not possess the natural healing properties of essential oils and contain chemicals and other impurities. When purchasing, especially for use around children, please make sure to do research about oil purity. We recommend doTERRA Essential Oils. Then, make sure you consult your site policy on using essential oils for personal use and with children.


Next, I experimented with lavender, peppermint, orange and lemon. I began by introducing each scent and letting the students smell the oil from the bottle. It was fun to have them close their eyes and try to guess the scent!

Smelling Essential Oils
My personal favorite is the mild and versatile wild orange. I combined the orange with peppermint for standardized testing. I know it sounds like an odd combination, but it was lovely! It is said to increase focus and clarity.

To end the week, I combined lemon and orange for a citrus blast. Students noticed the scent as soon as they walked in the door. One of my most anxious students said, “Can I sit here at the back table so I can be near the diffuser”? There were meandering paths past the diffuser throughout the day and audible “ahh”s after a long inhale.

However, essential oils are not just for good smells. Diffusing can eliminate airborne pathogens. A bonus this time of year when we are all trying to stay healthy.

Essential oils can also be an important component for teacher self care. Having the diffuser near my workspace helped me stay calm, focused and in an overall good mood. One day, I was suffering from a horrible headache due to seasonal allergies. I didn’t have any aspirin at school, so I used a drop of peppermint and rubbed it behind each ear. At first, the sensation was pretty overwhelming. However, after a minute, I felt my “fog” lift! The instantaneous result was amazing.

1000 Petals and doTERRA

diffusers in the classroom

We have created a Move Mindfully® Blend in a roller bottle for topical use that is grounding and uplifting! We also offer Wild Orange Spray in our be Station Kit. Check out our doTERRA website to learn more about using essential oils and home and with children.

Have you tried essential oils? Which oils have children responded to? Leave a comment!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

5 Daily Happiness Practices

If you could articulate in one sentence or even one word, what you hope for your child, what would it be?

In other words, what do you most want for your precious little one(s)? What’s the end goal? Is it straight A’s? Making the volleyball team? Getting accepted into fashion school? Passing the state test?

Not having children of my own, I was very curious about the answer. After asking hundreds of parents, I was shocked at the overwhelming amount of similar responses. The answer was crystal clear- HAPPINESS. Parents deeply want their children to be happy.

Sounds simple. But, the reality is every day as a school counselor, I was noticing so much stress permeating the hallways and classroom and seeping into students and staff daily lives. I thought, “Why aren’t we teaching ways to cope with stress, anger, sadness and anxiety? Also, why aren’t we teaching the habits that have been proven to increase happiness?” After all, we now know that happiness is a skill and with the latest research in neuroscience, we know that we can train our brains for happiness.

Research also shows us that being in a state of happiness triples creativity, increases productivity and promotes health. Shawn Achor, a Harvard researcher who studies happiness, states, “the greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged brain.” My experience is that children and adults desire happiness. So, what can we do to intentionally teach these skills?

Good news- there are five simple daily practices that you can start practicing today. Below is a list of the Happiness Habits from Shawn Achor’s research, along with a daily assignment:


People who regularly practice gratitude experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

We know that 90% of happiness comes from how our brain perceives life. When we practice gratitude, we’re training our brains to look for the “good” and in turn by seeing the good, it increases our happiness.

Daily practice: Take time to notice the positives. Write or draw 3 things you’re grateful for daily.

The Doubler:

Journaling or talking about a positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours “doubles” the serotonin released into your body. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between the experience happening or you talking/writing about the experience,

It’s important to train our brains, just like we workout our bodies.

Daily practice: Tell someone one positive thing that happened within the past 24 hours.


Exercise changes your Tetris effect. The brain says, “I’ve been successful in one domain. I bet I can be successful in another domain.” Also, movement releases physical and emotional energy, develops concentration and self-confidence and increases serotonin and changes emotional states.

Daily practice: Yoga, cycling, walking or any exercise for 20 minutes.


Taking 5 minutes to sit in a stillness promotes inner peace, feeling grounded, and gets us set for the day by focusing on an intention. Meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD of doing it all and allows our brain to focus.

Daily practice: Sit in stillness for at least 5 minutes.

Acts of Kindness:

When we’re kind, we inspire others to be kind, and it actually creates a ripple effect that spreads outwards to our friends’ friends’ friends — to three degrees of separation.

Being kind causes elevated levels of dopamine in the brain, so we get a natural high, often referred to as “Helper’s High.”

Daily practice: Choose one intentional act of kindness. Send a former teacher an email, help your mom organize the kitchen or give a co-worker a compliment.

As you can see, these simple practices don’t take much time at all. Hope you enjoy doing these activities with your kiddos. It might be easier to start with one practice and try it out for a few weeks before adding another one. Isn’t it exciting to know that we have the power to wire our brains for happiness?

Thank you for teaching your children about happiness, which will make this world a “happier” place. After all, a peaceful world begins with a peaceful mind. Keep shining!

Lyndsay Morris, M.Ed, RYT-200 is a whole child education advocate, the founder of Generation Wellness, the host of the Wellness Warrior Show and author of The Mindful Student. Lyndsay believes that connection is at the heart of learning and inspires students and staff to live a life of less stress and more success through “teaching peace” and “choosing happy”.

For more info, click here:

Belly Breathing

Belly Breathing is the foundational breath to teach children.

Using the Hoberman Sphere is the best way to visually understand the components of healthy breathing. We call this deep, slow and rhythmic breathing, Belly Breathing. This format, utilizing the Hoberman Sphere, a counter and compliments is found in the Yoga Calm® Curriculum.

Here is a step by step guide about implementing (and growing) a student led breathing routine.

Step 1- Teacher Models
To begin, start by modeling breathing with the Hoberman Sphere. Inhale open, exhale close, One. Inhale open, exhale close, Two. 5-10 breaths is what is needed to transition from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system.

Step 2- Student Leaders
Then, a student steps into the role of the breathing leader and manipulates the sphere. Shortly thereafter, another student became the “counter”. The counter chooses the number of breaths (between 5-10) and also keeps count while the leader uses the sphere.

Counting Breaths
Step 3- The Chime
Next, we introduce the chime. A student rings the chime to begin the breathing routine. It takes about 20 seconds for the ring to stop, so it is a good way to settle into our bodies before the breathing ball begins.

Ringing a chime

Step 4- Glitter Jar
A great option to add in is the glitter jar. It serves as a metaphor for the body (or even for the classroom) when things are crazy, confusing and tense. A student made the observation of, “When you stop shaking the jar, its like ringing the chime! So, can I shake the jar before the chime ringer does her job?” The glitter jar serves as an extra visual (and leadership opportunity).

Shaking the glitter jar

Step 5- Compliments
As it happens mid year, many of our routines were needing a pick me up! That is when I introduced compliments. After the breathing routine, the class would offer a compliment for each leader. It not only served as a bucket filler, but also a good reminder of our purpose. Compliments like, “You spoke with a firm but calming voice” and “You stayed grounded the entire time” made all of us smile!

But… then one day a breathing leader said, “You know, we all get compliments, but what about the rest of the class? Can I give them a compliment?” Sure. So, after the leader received a compliment they turned around and gave a compliment to someone else! (incase you are keeping score, that is eight compliments)

So, in total… that is five breathing leaders. Remember though, this routine developed organically, mostly driven by the students, and started with me simply taking five breaths with the Hoberman Sphere.

This routine grew because the students see value in the practice. They see value in taking two minutes for breathing. There is value in being involved in a community. Students will value being a leader.

The reason that this works is two fold.

It is a daily routine that happens every. single. day. We gift this time to our students. It allows us to slow down and feel the effects of breath.

Second, it serves as a “as needed” intervention. The students will say, “We need to breathe” and request the routine. Think, after an assembly. Before a test. In the middle of a big project.

Deep breaths

Want to see the routine in action? Watch this video  for an example of what the routine looks like in a real classroom. It is 2 minutes and 22 seconds. It is about 1 minute of breathing and about 1 minute of compliments. This video was taken at the end of morning meeting right before physical education. The students were going to start roller blading… a very exciting time for our school! I was amazed that the nervous, excited energy from minutes before completely changed with the muscle memory of this routine. Note: One of my favorite parts of the video you can’t really hear. The compliment for the affirmation, “I trust myself” is, “I like how you chose ‘I trust myself’ because we are going rollerblading and it takes some balance and trust to do that”.

Counters and compliments

Have you used a breathing routine? How have your students responded? Leave a comment!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Head on Desk

Mindful transitions are an important component of small group instruction.

For students and staff mindful transitions are critical for the success of an intervention. As an English as a Second Language Teacher, I teach many small groups throughout the day. The process of getting the students, walking down the hallway and settling into another classroom space can sometimes be a difficult transition… for the kids and myself!

This year I have learned about Move Mindfully® and I have started implementing some of the strategies. One that works well for me is child’s pose on the desk. I use the Head on Desk card found in the Move Mindfully Card Deck for cuing suggestions.

When students come into my classroom, they know before anything else, that they should sit at their spots and take one minute in head on desk. The blue poster in the Permission to Pause package also serves as a great visual for this routine.

Stack one fist on top of the other and then rest your forehead on your top fist. Another option is to lay head on flat hands. I wait here for one minute, taking 5-10 deep breaths. Their brains and bodies need this moment of rest.

Taking this moment to get centered and arrive in the space has been influential in creating positive transitions and immediate focus. Before cuing them out, I read aloud our objective. Right away, they are engaging in the content objective and using their visualization.

Teacher Self Care

I have found that this moment is not only beneficial for the students, but for myself as well! I used to use this minute to get my papers in order and make sure I had pencils on the table. However, I recently started participating with the students and noticed a profound effect. As a teacher, we are always running from one place to another. Taking time to slow down, stop and breathe has made ME a more focused and attentive teacher.

They say, if you don’t have a minute for mindfulness, take five. I think the same is true with running small groups. The time taken to settle in and transition with purposeful breath can make a huge impact. The Move Mindfully® Teachers Pay Teachers store also has great resources to get you started with these practices.

Have you used child’s pose as a transition? How do you help your students arrive to small group? Leave a comment!

A Breath of Fresh Air

Bringing Mindfulness and Movement Into the Classroom

Winter sun filters through the windows as Stephanie Kennelly, ’06, helps her third-graders gather in a circle. Some sit on chairs, some on square mats at the center of their classroom.

A student, right, demonstrates tree pose as teacher Stephanie Kennelly and classmates follow.

Today’s focus is strength. Five student leaders welcome their peers into the session with muscle tension-and-release exercises paired with deep breaths. Then the rest of the circle offers up compliments to the leaders on their tone of voice and technique.

Flaminio and students practice warrior pose inside Kennelly’s classroom.

“Think of a person, place, or thing that helps you feel strong,” Flaminio tells the class. Together, they discuss examples of physical, emotional, and mental strength. Then they practice “volcano breaths”—hands lifted together above heads and released out to the side and down, like a hot lava flow.

Combining mindfulness with physical activity can help foster social-emotional growth and train students to deal with stress in healthy ways. Garlough Environmental Magnet School in West St. Paul serves many students who have experienced trauma and adversity. But Flaminio and Kennelly emphasize that mindfulness practice is beneficial to all students, no matter their circumstances or abilities. Kennelly’s third-graders say that Yoga Calm activities help them focus in class, calm down before tests, and get along better with their families at home.

“It empowers them,” Kennelly says later of her class’s yoga routine. “This has been not only life-changing for me and my family but for my students and their families.”

In addition to Flaminio’s sessions, Kennelly finds smart ways to slip Yoga Calm practices into the everyday curriculum. Her students do mountain pose while they wait in line, and everyone takes a minute for breathing and centering themselves whenever the class transitions between subjects or activities.

And because of Garlough’s environmental focus, Kennelly says, the school’s framework lends itself to her class’s practices. Themes of biology, health, and environmental connectedness translate well to the physical, mental, social, and emotional components of yoga.

“As we start talking about these topics, the students have a really solid foundation,” says Kennelly. “We’re big on observation here. Once a week we go outside with a naturalist, and anytime we’re outside, we do lots of outdoor Yoga Calm practices.”

The real-life impacts of yoga mean a lot to Kennelly as she watches her students apply in-class practices to other parts of their days.

“They’re taking ownership of it in their own selves and own lives,” she says. “The real practice happens off the mat.”

Channeling positive effects

Kennelly and Flaminio’s partnership began in spring 2016 when the two met through a mutual friend. Flaminio’s business, 1000 Petals LLC, offers well-being training and workshops based on mindfulness and movement to schools and therapeutic environments. Her sessions at Garlough—which began in fall 2016 and were so successful they continued in winter 2017—are a part of a set of Moving and Learning residencies that she has implemented in more than 100 classrooms. A study in Minneapolis schools in 2007 showed that regular use of Yoga Calm practices improved feelings of student community, decreased behavioral referrals, lowered general classroom volume, and increased the amount of time students spent on task, especially during reading.

According to Kennelly and Flaminio, the effects of Yoga Calm practices are long lasting, even for younger students. Once kids learn it, they’re able to apply it to their lives outside of school as well.

Many of Kennelly’s students practice mindful breathing on their own.

At parent–teacher conferences in the fall, Kennelly began to hear from parents who’d seen remarkable changes in their home dynamics. Some have even reported being led by their kids in calming exercises when it’s clear that they’re stressed out about something.

“When I ask what was good in school today, I’m as likely to hear about new poses or practices as I am other activities,” says Derek Schwartz, the father of a student in Kennelly’s class. “I’ve seen her at home, for example, when she’s handling one of our pets, she’ll often take a breath to help center herself and get calm.”

“The parents of my students say this is the best year they’ve had,” says Kennelly. “The kids are advocating.”

Paths to practice

Flaminio was a college student in social work when she earned fitness certifications and started teaching yoga. After completing her master of social work, she began integrating mindfulness and movement as a school social worker.

“I’d always had these two passions in my life—working really hard and then doing yoga and fitness to unwind and de-stress,” Flaminio says. “These passions came together when I tried yoga with some students who were particularly challenging.”

“I realized I had been doing my work from the chin up—cognitive therapy—when trauma is in the nervous system, and I need to work from the chin down—that is, with the body. The changes I saw were so dramatic when I started working with mind, body, and heart.”

Flaminio spent a sabbatical year studying the relationship between yoga, mindfulness, and mental health. That’s when she learned about Yoga Calm, designed by a husband-and-wife team in Oregon for schools, hospitals, and other community-based settings. She incorporated Yoga Calm into the mission of 1000 Petals.

“We’re raising really smart kids, they make it to college, and they’re not surviving because they’re anxious,” Flaminio says. “We can’t keep raising smart, anxious children. We’ve got to raise children that are strong physically, emotionally, and mentally. Growing these three areas equally is the key to a happy, well-adjusted child.”

Meanwhile, Kennelly has been practicing yoga since high school. It was somebody at the studio she attends regularly who introduced her to Flaminio.

Motivated by the importance of yoga practice in her own life and the needs she saw in her classroom, Kennelly brought the idea to Garlough principal Sue Powell, ’89, ’96.

“Our school was having a huge issue with students affected by trauma,” Powell says. Kennelly and Flaminio’s collaboration offered a way for all students to learn about healthy stress reduction.

“Maybe they don’t have control of what’s going on at home, but they know that they can be in control of themselves,” says Powell.

First steps

A successful mindfulness practice in the classroom requires commitment to a nontraditional instruction style, Kennelly and Flaminio agree.

“It’s a very different way of teaching,” says Flaminio. “When you’re breathing with students, you’re at the same level. In fact, they’re teaching, too.”

The sense of teacher–student equality is important to Kennelly.

“It’s not about an adult being in control,” she says. “I can’t as your teacher be the one that tethers you down—you have to have something inside yourself, like a compass to get you through the day.”

Students at Garlough Environmental Magnet School, located next to a 320-acre nature center, practice Yoga Calm indoors and out.

Flaminio recommends teachers start by focusing on their own presence and the kind of energy they bring to class.

“Whatever you can do to be conscious of how you’re showing up and how you’re using your body is absolutely critical,” she says. “In the education system, we’re all givers—we don’t put self-care at the top of the list—but it has to be at the top because that self-care is the intervention.”

Kennelly was recognized by the districtwide wellness committee with a Healthy Hero Award for her good work with Yoga Calm. Like all teachers, she deals with an always-busy class schedule, but Kennelly believes her strategic incorporation of mindfulness and movement is achievable and worthwhile.

“People always say, ‘How do you have time?’” she says. The time spent on mindfulness makes the rest of the day run more smoothly and efficiently. “I don’t have to give directions twice. I don’t have to stop. The kids get to task right away.”

For teachers looking to bring mindfulness practices into their own classrooms, Kennelly and Flaminio say it’s okay for first steps to be small. Introducing one concept, like mindful breathing, can make a noticeable difference.

“This isn’t magic, but we look for moments,” says Flaminio. “It’s that moment when a child says, ‘I have never felt this peaceful or relaxed before,’ and realizes that, no matter how messy life gets, it is not messy deep inside. And she has the skills now to find that peace inside.”

Kennelly recommends a minute of silence during class transitions and practicing breathing together as a group.

“It’s like getting a fresh breath of air,” she says. “You recharge your battery.”

By Ellen Fee

April, 2017

See Original Article CEHD Connect